After the worldwide success of Swedish film The 100-Year Old Man That Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared, another movie has risen out of Sweden to grab the attention of international audiences. We Are The Best! (Vi är bäst!) is directed by Lukas Moodysson and set in the 1980s, where three 13-year-old girls with an affinity for punk music decide to start a band, despite their classmates constantly reminding them that punk is dead. Best friends Bobo (Mira Barkhammar) and Klara (Mira Grosin) are outcasts at school, with their boyish haircuts and love of all things punk, so the pair form a band to show everyone just how little they care about what they think. There’s only one problem: they don’t know how to play any instruments. Enter Hedvig (Liv LeMoyne), a quiet, good Christian girl whose incredible classical guitar skills are one of the reasons she has no friends. Bobo and Klara befriend Hedvig in the hope she can teach them how to play, and what follows is a wild ride of mohawks, eyeliner, and a whole lot of punk music.
This film is really a coming of age story, an exploration of early adolescence when we are trying to figure out who we are in the midst of new and and confronting experiences. Alcohol, embarrassing parents, boys, school, bullying, the girls have to tackle it all while somehow managing to maintain their friendship, but it’s their music that keeps them together. It’s a very relatable and realistic depiction of how tween girls act, and I could easily see my thirteen-year-old self in their shoes. The three leading ladies were fabulously cast and incredibly talented for their young age; they brought light to the screen and made this film infinitely more enjoyable. Moodysson’s direction is engaging and fun, but also allows for moments of poignancy to shine through, despite the fact that his main characters haven’t even gone through puberty yet.
We Are The Best! is at times incredibly amusing, but I wasn’t totally sold on the whole package. It’s only 102 minutes long, but to me the pace felt rather slow and there weren’t a whole lot of significant plot points to help move things along. I also felt that, while the writing was funny and true-to-life, too much of it was lost in translation as the girls often spoke quickly and over the top of one another, to the point where the subtitles couldn’t keep up. It’s a real shame, because while these little pieces of dialogue may not be vital to the story, they provide the film with a life and vivacity that foreign audiences miss out on. It was something that constantly irked me and consequently kept taking me out of the film.
We Are The Best! is an enjoyable watch that focuses almost solely on an age group that rarely gets so much attention, but the little issues with the film kept preventing me from becoming fully engrossed. Swedish audiences will really love this film, but for those of us that have to compete with slow and sometimes inaccurate subtitles, the fun is dampened just a little bit.